Disclaimer: This article is not intended to promote a specific company or product. Rather its purpose is to give hospitalists an overview of technological solutions available to them today.
Electronic medical records (EMR). Healthcare information technology legislation. With all the focus on ramping up technology in hospitals, are there any IT solutions specific to hospitalists? It turns out that, yes, there are several technology systems on the market today designed especially for hospital medicine groups and the physicians who work for them.
IT and the Bottom Line
David Delaney, MD, vice president and chief medical officer of technology vendor MedAptus, Inc., Boston, says his company’s most popular solution suite is “charge capture—without a doubt. If you look at it from the perspective of driving meaningful revenue, you can increase collections from $20,000-$30,000 per hospitalist. There’s very little that’s more compelling than saying you’ll get paid more for doing the same amount of work. You can use the increased revenue to pay for other applications or to help fund EMR.”
Other major players in hospital medicine applications agree: Charge capture is the biggest draw for hospital medicine groups interested in purchasing their applications. Delaney says that in hospital medicine, “Market penetration [for electronic charge capture] is small but accelerating rapidly. I’d say only about 20% of the market is using true charge capture applications.”
One of the groups within that 20% is Inpatient Management Medical Group (IMMG), Novato, Calif. Arieh Rosenbaum, MD, director of hospitalists for IMMG’s Davies Campus, convinced the group to purchase a solution suite from one of the major vendors covered in this article, arguing that the technology would improve revenues and help the group collect their own data.
“Our first purchase was the billing program,” says Dr. Rosenbaum. “This was a huge change for us; we went from physicians basically carrying pieces of paper around in our pockets to a fully electronic billing system. It definitely helped our revenue; we’ve vastly improved our ability to capture charges.”
Jeffrey D. Kin, MD, of the Fredericksburg (Va.) Hospitalist Group, agrees. His practice purchased a different charge capture product than IMMG but experienced the same results: “There are fewer errors, and our collections are going up,” he says. “There are a lot of upsides to having a computerized system. Last year we copied 80,000 pieces of paper. Not all of that was billing slips, but a lot was.”
Both groups are relatively new customers, and both plan to begin mining the data in their new systems. “We don’t want to rely on the data provided by the hospital,” says Dr. Rosenbaum. “With the information in the system, we can look at diagnoses, length of stay, all sorts of things. This can provide a way for us to prove our value to the hospital.”
Eventually, Dr. Rosenbaum would like to merge core measures into the charge capture process so hospitalists can ensure they are following best practices as they work. “It’s a way to improve ourselves,” he says.
Help for the Working Hospitalist
But there is much more out there besides financial tools. The four leading technology product suites examined for this article offer time-saving and efficiency-boosting utilities geared toward the working hospitalist, including the ability to call up lab results for patients, e-prescribing, integrated communication with colleagues and primary care physicians (PCPs), and much more.